What are the Most Common Symptoms of OCD?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
Compulsive hand washing may be a sign of OCD.
Compulsive hand washing may be a sign of OCD.

The most common symptoms of OCD, which is a term that most people understand to mean "obsessive compulsive disorder," are found in the very name of the disorder itself: obsessions and compulsions. With varying severity and frequency, sufferers feel compelled to complete certain actions or rituals. In many cases, the symptoms of OCD worsen in times of anxiety or stress, causing the obsessions to become more intense and the compulsions to become more frequent. There are a number of symptoms of OCD, but there are patterns and symptoms that have been found to be either unique to the disorder or quite common within the disorder.

Constantly checking to confirm that doors are locked may be a sign of OCD.
Constantly checking to confirm that doors are locked may be a sign of OCD.

There are a number of obsessions with which people with OCD commonly have to deal. In some cases, symptoms of OCD include obsessions with morality, religion, and superstition. Some people suffering from OCD are plagued by certain fears such as a fear of germs, a fear of losing something, or a fear of causing harm to another person, or even causing harm to oneself. Other symptoms of OCD include obsessions with having everything organized and ordered in a certain way.

Regularly rechecking to confirm that an alarm clock is set may be a sign of OCD.
Regularly rechecking to confirm that an alarm clock is set may be a sign of OCD.

It is quite common for people suffering from OCD to have compulsions connected to their obsessions. For example, a person obsessed with germs and cleanliness may compulsively wash her hands or clean her house. Someone suffering from an obsession with superstition and rituals may find herself spending large parts of her days completing rituals of her own invention, such as tapping a certain number of times on a table or flicking a light on and off a certain number of times before or after a certain event, such as walking into a room. Sometimes people with OCD will be compelled to create symmetry in the objects around them and will spend hours each day adjusting the placement of objects in their homes, vehicles, and workspaces.

There are various treatment options for overcoming obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
There are various treatment options for overcoming obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

There are a number of disorders that can be viewed as symptoms of OCD. Hoarding, for example, is an issue that is often related to OCD and may be considered to be one of the symptoms of OCD. People who are hoarders are often obsessed with the thought of being without things that they need or losing things and therefore are compelled to hoard all kinds of objects, some of which may have little or no actual value.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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    • Compulsive hand washing may be a sign of OCD.
      Compulsive hand washing may be a sign of OCD.
    • Constantly checking to confirm that doors are locked may be a sign of OCD.
      Constantly checking to confirm that doors are locked may be a sign of OCD.
    • Regularly rechecking to confirm that an alarm clock is set may be a sign of OCD.
      Regularly rechecking to confirm that an alarm clock is set may be a sign of OCD.
    • There are various treatment options for overcoming obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
      There are various treatment options for overcoming obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
    • People with OCD often feel the need to compulsively clean.
      People with OCD often feel the need to compulsively clean.